the one sure thing

Mother prepared them every night,
mashed or boiled; they were
the quiet one on the plate,
the one sure thing.
Before supper, as she stood
at the sink to scrub and peel,
to watch wind sweep
the back meadow into cowlicks,
she filled our poor, lopsided
kitchen with something
urgent: the fragrance
of that small death in her hands.
I forgave her everything—
the broad column of her body
turned inward, toward
her task—as I leaned hungrily
against her leg, and she passed
down to me, a wedge, raw
and beaded with milk